Will Smith: "Racism Is Not Getting Worse, It's Getting Filmed"

The Late Show

The actor talks about his interest in politics, marriage counseling, and his discussion with President Obama about playing him in a movie.

Will Smith and Stephen Colbert talked about race relations in the U.S. on Tuesday's Late Show, and Smith said he disagrees with people who think that the situation has gotten progressively worse.

The Suicide Squad actor compared working on race relations to working on a marriage. "I've done my 10,000 hours of marriage counseling, so Jada and I have worked really hard to develop a successful relationship," said Smith. "I always look at things in terms of relationships so when I think about race relations in this country now, there's a thing that happens before things are cleaned up. There's a darkness before the dawn that is always difficult."

He continued, "When I hear people say it's worse than it's ever been I disagree completely." Smith said race relations are not as bad as they were in the 1960s or the 1860s.

"We are talking about race in this country more clearly and openly than we have almost ever in the history of this country," said Smith. "Racism is not getting worse, it's getting filmed."

"The revolution is not being televised, but it's being tweeted," added Colbert.

Smith agreed and continued with his analogy, saying he appreciates that America's problems with systemic racism are on the table. "I view that in the same way as Jada and I had to work on things in our marriage. When the truth comes out and it gets on the table, you have to confront what's real. It sucks," said Smith. "I think there's an opportunity more than ever for a level of understanding that we've never had before."

Smith has often talked about his interest in politics, but when Colbert asked him if he thought he would become a politician, Smith said no.

"I definitely have had the itching," said Smith. "I have a lot of views and ideas, and sometimes I hear people say things on television and I just want to run against them." But, he added, "I think it's not where my greatest gifts are."

Jada Pinkett-Smith has also apparently on numerous occasions said "Hell, no," to her husband's political aspirations, he told the Late Show host. 

However something he's not ruling out — playing Barack Obama in a film. Smith said he and the president have spoken about the prospect of it a few times. Smith said Obama told him that one thing is for sure, Smith has "the ears to play him." 

During a commercial break Smith performed his seasonally-appropriate hit "Summertime," as the crowd cheered him along.

Smith also spoke about his experiences filming Suicide Squad, and described how when everybody gave each other matching tattoos he abstained, due to his age.

At the end of his visit, he sat under the stars with Colbert and mused about wrong numbers and whether people are all living in a dog's dream.

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